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2. Illicit Drug Use

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) obtains information on nine different categories of illicit drug use: marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and nonmedical use of prescription-type pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. In these categories, hashish is included with marijuana and crack is considered a form of cocaine. Nonmedical use of prescription-type pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives is defined as use of at least one of these medications without a prescription belonging to the respondent or use that occurred simply for the experience or feeling the drug caused. Estimates of illicit drug use reflect any of the nine categories listed above.

2.1 Illicit Drugs

In 2005-2006, 8.2 percent of the U.S. population aged 12 or older had used an illicit drug in the past month, and the percentage was similar in 2006-2007 (8.1 percent) (Table C.1). Estimates of past month use of illicit drugs ranged from a low of 5.2 percent in Iowa to a high of 12.5 percent in Rhode Island for all persons aged 12 or older (Table B.1). Colorado, District of Columbia, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont were in the highest fifth for all persons aged 12 or older and for each of the age subgroups: 12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older (Figures 2.1 to 2.4).

Ten States showed significant changes from 2005-2006 to 2006-2007 (at the 5 percent level of significance) in the percentage of all persons aged 12 or older who used an illicit drug in the past month: Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania had decreases, and Arizona, Kentucky, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin had increases. In the Northeast region, the use of illicit drugs among young adults aged 18 to 25 declined from 22.9 percent in 2005-2006 to 21.8 percent in 2006-2007, and among persons 12 or older the prevalence declined from 8.8 to 8.3 percent (Table C.1).

2.2 Marijuana

Marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug, was used by 5.9 percent of the population in 2006-2007 during the past month (Table B.3). Because marijuana is the predominant drug used among those using an illicit drug, States that had high prevalence rates for illicit drug use also had high prevalence rates for past month use of marijuana. Nine of the 10 States in the top fifth for past month use of an illicit drug among persons aged 12 or older also were ranked in the top fifth for past month use of marijuana. Six States were common to the top fifth for past month marijuana use in all three age groups (12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older), and among persons 12 or older: Colorado, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont (Figures 2.1 and 2.9 to 2.12). Iowa had the lowest rate of past month use of marijuana in 2006-2007 (3.8 percent) in the 12 or older population, and Rhode Island had the highest rate (10.3 percent) (Table B.3).

Nationally in 2006-2007, 10.2 percent of all persons aged 12 or older reported marijuana use in the past year (Table B.2). Young adults aged 18 to 25 reported the highest rate of past year use of marijuana, 27.7 percent. Utah had the lowest rate (7.2 percent) of past year use of marijuana among persons aged 12 or older. Rhode Island had the highest rate of past year marijuana use in that age group (16.1 percent).

Eight States showed significant changes in the past year use of marijuana among all persons aged 12 or older between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007: Connecticut, Kansas, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Utah had decreases, whereas Kentucky, North Dakota, and Virginia had increases. Ten States showed significant changes in the past month use of marijuana among all persons 12 or older: Connecticut, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia had decreases, and the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Virginia had increases (Tables C.2 and C.3).

2.3 Perceptions of Risk of Marijuana Use

An individual's perception of the risks of substance use has been shown to be inversely related to whether he or she actually uses the substance (e.g., Bachman, Johnston, & O'Malley, 1998). At the State level, 9 of the 10 States that ranked in the lowest fifth of perceived great risk of using marijuana once a month were also among the States that ranked in the highest fifth for past month use of marijuana in 2006-2007 for persons aged 12 or older (Figures 2.9 and 2.13).

Slightly over one quarter (26.2 percent) of all persons aged 12 or older in New Hampshire reported that using marijuana occasionally (once a month) was a great risk (Table B.4). However, in Mississippi slightly more than half (51.4 percent) of all persons aged 12 or older indicated that occasional use of marijuana was a great risk. Although Mississippi (4.6 percent) did not have the lowest rate for past month marijuana use among persons aged 12 or older, it ranked in the lowest fifth for that measure (Table B.3 and Figure 2.9).

The national percentage of persons aged 12 or older perceiving a great risk of using marijuana once a month remained unchanged between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 (both at 38.9 percent) (Table C.4). Seven States showed a significant change in the perceived risk of using marijuana once a month among persons 12 or older: Arkansas, Colorado, and South Dakota showed decreases, whereas Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin had increases.

2.4 Incidence of Marijuana Use

Related to the prevalence of marijuana use is the number of persons in a period of time who used marijuana for the first time ever. When the number of first-time users of a substance increases for a number of consecutive years, the prevalence rate for the substance tends to increase also. The average annual incidence of marijuana for this report is estimated somewhat differently from the method used for the national report (OAS, 2008a).6 The estimate for a single year is averaged over the 2 most recent years and expressed as a rate per 100 person years of exposure. For the combined years 2006-2007, the national marijuana incidence rate for all persons aged 12 or older was 1.6 percent (Table B.5). Vermont had the highest rate (2.5 percent), and Utah had the lowest rate (1.2 percent).

Seven States that were ranked in the top fifth for marijuana incidence in the 12 or older age group also ranked in the top fifth for past month marijuana use (Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) (Figures 2.9 and 2.17). Because most initiation of marijuana takes place at age 25 or earlier (Gfroerer, Wu, & Penne, 2002), the rates of initiation in the 26 or older age group were much lower than those in the 18 to 25 and 12 to 17 age groups: The national rates were 0.1, 6.3, and 5.6 percent, respectively (Table B.5). Vermont had the highest rate among youths aged 12 to 17 (8.1 percent) and among young adults aged 18 to 25 (11.5 percent). Utah had the lowest rate among youths aged 12 to 17 (3.4 percent) and among young adults aged 18 to 25 (3.3 percent).

Seven States showed significant changes in marijuana incidence rates among persons 12 or older between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007: Delaware and Utah showed declines, and Colorado, Kentucky, North Dakota, Ohio, and Rhode Island showed increases (Table C.5).

2.5 Illicit Drugs Other Than Marijuana

Illicit drugs other than marijuana include cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and the nonmedical use of prescription-type pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. The national estimate of past month use of illicit drugs other than marijuana among persons aged 12 or older was 3.8 percent for 2006-2007 combined (Table B.6). Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota had the lowest rate (2.6 percent) of past month use of an illicit drug other than marijuana among persons 12 or older, and Arizona and Rhode Island had the highest rate (5.5 percent). Five States that were in the top fifth for past month use of an illicit drug among those aged 12 or older also were ranked in the top fifth for past month use of an illicit drug other than marijuana: Colorado, District of Columbia, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington (Figures 2.1 and 2.20).

Nationally, the rate of past month use of illicit drugs other than marijuana decreased between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 among all persons aged 18 to 25 (from 8.8 to 8.5 percent) (Table C.6). Five States showed significant changes among persons aged 12 or older: Connecticut and Iowa had decreases, and Arizona, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin had increases.

2.6 Cocaine

The 2006-2007 national prevalence rate for the use of cocaine in the past year among all persons aged 12 or older was 2.4 percent (Table B.7). Because cocaine is one of the substances included in the "illicit drug use other than marijuana" category, it is useful to compare the rankings of States with respect to these two measures. In 2006-2007, five States (Arizona, Colorado, District of Columbia, Rhode Island, and Tennessee) ranked in the highest fifth for both past month use of an illicit drug other than marijuana (aged 12 or older) and past year use of cocaine (aged 12 or older) (Figures 2.20 and 2.24). The District of Columbia had the highest rate of past year cocaine use (5.1 percent) among persons aged 12 or older; Mississippi had the lowest rate (1.6 percent) in that population (Table B.7). Arizona, Colorado, and Rhode Island ranked in the top fifth for past year cocaine use among all three age groups (12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older) and among persons 12 or older (Figures 2.24 to 2.27). It is interesting to note that the District of Columbia had the highest rate of past year cocaine use among persons aged 26 or older (5.4 percent), but it had the lowest rate among youths aged 12 to 17 (0.8 percent) along with Mississippi.

Kansas (from 2.9 to 2.2 percent) and Nebraska (from 2.4 to 1.9 percent) showed significant decreases, and Wisconsin (from 1.8 to 2.4 percent) showed a significant increase in past year cocaine use among persons aged 12 or older between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 (Table C.7).

2.7 Pain Relievers (Nonmedical Use)

Nonmedical use of prescription-type pain relievers is defined as use of these drugs without a prescription or use that occurred simply for the experience or feeling the drug caused. Over-the-counter (OTC) use and legitimate use of prescription-type pain relievers are not included. In 2006-2007, 5.1 percent of all persons aged 12 or older reported having used pain relievers nonmedically in the past year, a percentage that remained relatively unchanged from 2005-2006 (5.0 percent) (Table C.8). In 2006-2007, Arkansas had the highest percentage (7.3 percent) of persons aged 12 or older using pain relievers for nonmedical purposes in the past year, and South Dakota had the lowest rate in the Nation—3.4 percent (Table B.8). Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Tennessee ranked in the top fifth of States for this measure in each of the three age groups (12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older) and for the total population aged 12 or older (Figures 2.28 to 2.31).

Nine States showed significant changes in the nonmedical use of pain relievers in the past year between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007: Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, and Utah had declines, and Arizona, Arkansas, Ohio, and Wisconsin showed increases (Table C.8).

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Figure 2.1 Illicit Drug Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.1

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.2 Illicit Drug Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.2

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.3 Illicit Drug Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.3

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.4 Illicit Drug Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.4

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.5 Marijuana Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.5

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.6 Marijuana Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.6

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.7 Marijuana Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.7

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.8 Marijuana Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.8

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.9 Marijuana Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.9

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.10 Marijuana Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.10

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.11 Marijuana Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.11

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.12 Marijuana Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.12

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.13 Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.13

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.14 Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Persons Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.14

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.15 Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.15

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.16 Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.16

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.17 First Use of Marijuana among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Average Annual Rates Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.17

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.18 First Use of Marijuana among Persons Aged 12 to 17, by State: Average Annual Rates Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.18

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.19 First Use of Marijuana among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Average Annual Rates Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.19

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.20 Illicit Drug Use Other Than Marijuana in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.20

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.21 Illicit Drug Use Other Than Marijuana in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.21

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.22 Illicit Drug Use Other Than Marijuana in Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.22

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.23 Illicit Drug Use Other Than Marijuana in Past Month among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.23

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.24 Cocaine Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.24

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.25 Cocaine Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.25

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.26 Cocaine Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.26

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.27 Cocaine Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.27

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.28 Nonmedical Use of Pain Relievers in Past Year among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.28

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.29 Nonmedical Use of Pain Relievers in Past Year among Persons Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.29

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.30 Nonmedical Use of Pain Relievers in Past Year among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.30

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.

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Figure 2.31 Nonmedical Use of Pain Relievers in Past Year among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2006 and 2007 NSDUHs

Figure 2.31

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007.


End Notes

6 Average annual rate = 100*{[X1 ÷ (0.5 * X1 + X2)] ÷ 2}, where X1 is the number of marijuana initiates in the past 24 months and X2 is the number of persons who never used marijuana. Note that because the average annual incidence of marijuana was so low for the 26 or older age group and had such an abbreviated range, no map has been included for it; however, Table B.5 includes these estimates. For details on how average annual incidence was calculated, see Section A.6 in Appendix A.

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